Is there a way to downsave my InDesign CS6 documents to be opened up by someone who is on InDesign CS5?
Does it save everything though? My InDesign guru sitting here says it doesn't save pictures. Is that correct? Sounds dubious to me.
If transferring files with folks using CS5 or CS5.5, what gets lost?
It saves everything. That said, you may have used new features that older versions cannot read and those things will be ignored or mangled. Line endings for text will probably change, too. Images should not be a problem, but don't expect a perfect reproduction of the file in a previous version, and don't expect smottosailing if you are going to be going round-trip and getting the file back for further edint in CS6.
It saves everything.
Almost, but not quite.
It does not save preview images for linked images.
So if you have a linked image (not an embedded image, not a copy-pasted image), and you save as IDML, and the original linked file disappears, then when you open the IDML file, you will not see a low-resolution proxy visual of the linked image.
In an INDD file, you will see that low-resolution proxy.
But it is a low-resolution proxy, and you should never be using it anyhow, and certainly not depending on it.
So as a practical point, this is not a problem. It's potentially even a benefit, because those low resolution proxies cause all manner of confusion when users don't realize what is going on. ID might well be better off without them.
So is the best option to save it to pdf??
That depends on what you want.
Want to send it to a print shop? Want to send it to someone who is going to provide editorial commentary? Want to send it to someone who is going to actually edit text? The best option is not obvious to a forum full of random strangers if we don't know your selection criteria. If, from your original post, you need your document
to be opened up by someone who is on InDesign CS5?
then PDF by itself may the worst option. I'd suggest that you File -> Package your CS6 file, make sure all linked files are included, and give them an IDML file. And, because the IDML file won't match your CS6 INDD perfectly if you've used any tools new in CS6, give 'em a PDF too. So maybe the best option is "all of the above."
A PDF by itself really ought to work for any print shop. You may want to ask what PDF export preset they'd want you to use. Some print shops have not upgraded their tools in a loooong time and therefore complain about PDFs, and demand native files. The generally accepted wisdom around here is that if a printer looks at your PDF and then demands the native files, to shop around for a printer who is not stuck in the dark ages.
On the other hand, maybe you have a really good personal relationship with your printer who is stuck in the dark ages - in which case, I'd roll back to my previous "give 'em everything, whether or not they want it" approach.
What Joel says is godd advice, but you absolutely need to understand that if you printer tries to print from .idml or a a .indd file converted from your .idml there's a VERY good chance there will be something wrong in the print, so get a contract proof and check it VERY carefully against your original document.